Great LezBritain: An Overview of Lesbians in British Soap Opera


BROOKSIDE – Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) 1994

By far, the most enduring lesbian moment on British television was when a teenaged Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) admitted she was a gay lady and began an affair with her best friend Margaret (Nicola Stephenson). The moment of eye-popping declaration was when Beth planted a kiss on Margaret in front of millions of viewers before the watershed in 1994.

Beth (Anna Friel) and Margaret (Nicola Stephenson)

The 18-year old Anna Friel handled her new found lesbian icon status with ease declaring,“Women have always been attracted to women, it’s just that society has never allowed them to be seen… people may not watch the news, but they watch soaps.”

Unfortunately, the lovely Beth did not last for long on our screens. In another controversial storyline, Beth was given a life sentence for murdering and burying her abusive father Trevor Jordache under the patio in 1995.

In our minds, she settled into life on G Wing at Larkhall Prison very well. She was looked after by an older lady called Yvonne and was loved by a rather handsome governor who worked tirelessly to free her and they now live together happily in Surrey. In reality, our Beth was carelessly killed off with a hereditary heart disease while still in prison. We must have been blind with grief at this travesty because we have no recollection at all about what happened to Margaret. For a reason unknown the internet has deleted all footage and entries of Beth and Margaret beyond the fact that actress Nicola Stephensen left the soap in 1994. If anyone can remember, then let us know.

EASTENDERS – Binnie (Sophie Langham) and Della (Michelle Joseph) 1994-95

Binnie and Della was the first attempt by EastEnders to portray a lesbian couple. Della, the closeted half of the relationship arrived in Albert Square first, followed by Binnie, who arrived a few months later banging a metaphoric rainbow tambourine for all and sundry to see.

Della (Michelle Joseph)

When Binnie had endured enough of Della’s homo-guising ways she finally kissed her in front of two shocked Albert Square heavy-weight matriarchs Pauline Fowler and Pat Evans.

Binnie and Della were an attractive and vibrant couple for about five minutes before the writers realized they didn’t know what to do with them as soon as they were "out." They existed only to have a bicker-filled relationship until they were written out and left together to have a new life in Spain.

Real-life lesbian Pam St. Clement, who plays Pat, summed the whole sorry plotline up when she said later: “Having given themselves the brief, they didn’t know what the f–k to do with it.”

FAMILY AFFAIRS – Holly Hart (Samantha Huggett) and Suzie Ross (Tina Landini) 1997-99

Family Affairs was one of the flagship programs launched on Channel 5’s first night. It never achieved high ratings, but for a while was acclaimed for featuring a higher density of gay and lesbian characters than any other soap.

The first of these relationships was between virginal 24-year old law student Holly and bisexual Suzie, who had lovely toned arms. The pre-coming out conversations between them mainly consisted of: “You’re my new best, best friend, I’m so lucky that you’re my best, best friend, I love our friendship so much and just want to be with you all the time,” which is quite a predictable start to many coming-of-age story arcs. However, it was played with an alluring bit of sexual chemistry that hadn’t really existed with any other lesbian couples in soap before.

Suzie Ross (Tina Landini)

All looked good when Holly turned down the advances of Tim (a young Idris Elba from The Wire) and persuaded the worried Suzie to have a relationship with her. But in surely one of the worst lesbian moments in soap, she ended up having an affair with older neighbor, landlord and all-round top dog Pete Callan, with whom she planned to run away. She was, however, killed off in a boat explosion before any of these unsavory heterosexual capers could continue and Suzie disappeared into a rabbit hole somewhere.

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